"The Girls Go To Shanghai" S9 / E10
Tonight's episode of Top Model was fueled not by Mr. Jay's constructive and conflicting criticism, or by Tyra's ego, or even by some kind of alternative fuel (nice green cycle, Tyra). No, tonight's ANTM was powered solely by Lisa's tears, which are mysterious, frequent, and apparently nearly unstoppable. Clearly, she had to go home.
Where do Lisa's tears come from? We may never know. I suspect that the reason she started crying during the Cover Girl Queen commercial shoot was because she may have suffered some kind of childhood abuse at the hands of a queen. Why else would saying the words, "Every woman is a queen," turn her into a shaky, simpering mess? Because she's nervous? Because she knows she can't deliver the lines? I don't know. But watching her try to sell makeup while barely holding back tears is a perfect encapsulation of Top Model. It was also really funny.
Then again, watching each one of the girls run through the lines was pretty funny: the way Chantal kept stumbling; the way Bianca turned her chin up as she spoke, like she was taunting the camera with how badly she was selling this make-up; the way Jenah's teeth seemed to multiply in her mouth each time she said a word; the way Saleshia closely resembled an alien. It was all fun to watch, even Heather, who, in the words of Bianca, "has a disability or whatever." Making models talk is cruel, disconcerting, and wrong–but unfortunately pretty entertaining.
Other things that fueled the episode: Bianca's neverending bitchiness towards Heather ("You the joke!"), stupid rationalizations ("What if a designer was like, 'I want my gowns in the air'?"), and, of course, China!! How could you tell the girls were in China? By the way they kept saying "We're in China!" at regular intervals. They said it so much, in fact, I started to doubt them–until Chantal said China was like The Jetsons and I fell down a spiral of stupidity so deep it didn't really matter if they were actually there or not.
Of course, there were other clues that the girls were in China: the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon movement challenge, the judging room drenched in red silk, and the backdrop in the interview shots was changed into the cheapest available Chinese cityscape. (I can't prove it, but I think they stole that background from a photo booth at Port Authority.) But where are the gongs? Where are the chopsticks? It wouldn't be ANTM without some cultural reductivism!
Honestly, I won't be fully convinced that they're actually in China until I see the girls roaming around the streets of Shanghai on go-sees, lost and probably angry that the signs aren't in English.
--Every woman is a queen, but Chantal is a milkmaid, and Saleshia (as previously stated) is an extra-terrestrial. I think one of them is going home next.
--"I like the symbols and things like that," Bianca, probably in response to a producer's question of "So what do you think of China?"
--China drained Ms. Jay of all of his energy: when he and Mr. Jay greeted the girls they were both practically catatonic.
--What did everyone think of Tyra's "We're not going to treat you differently because of your disability" speech to Heather? It would probably have held more weight if they weren't actually treating her differently, and if they didn't choose her, at least partially, because of her Asperger's.